Tell me a little about how Oberon started
Scott: About nine years ago, Timothy Allen and I worked for a structured authoring and publishing solution product vendor. Following an acquisition, we decided that we wanted to be more focused so we started our own company. We founded Oberon as a professional services and system integration organization with expertise in XML authoring, content management and automated publishing.
Our team has deep experience with the myriad technologies required for structured content solutions. We grew the company based on the people we knew who had the skills and knowledge to help our customers be successful. On average our team has 15+ years of structured content experience, ranging from Strategy Consultants and Solution Architects to Implementation Specialists and Trainers. Within the first five years we saw impressive growth, and wanted to find strategic technology partners that were leaders in the space.
It was clear that SDL would be a strategic partnership for us. Even though we are agnostic to tools, we now have a line of business that focuses specifically on SDL Knowledge Center.
Why is SDL an important partnership for you?
Scott: We share a lot in common with SDL: we have a strong desire to put the customer first and solve real business problems for the customer. I truly believe that SDL’s core values align with our own.
Joe: We knew we didn’t want to and couldn’t partner with a lot of vendors and still maintain our focus on successful implementations. We partnered with SDL primarily because it was a great fit: open communication and smart people from both a business and technology standpoint. I feel we’ve created a relationship rather than just a “partnership", where we share our best practices, methodology and commitment to customer success.
Do you specialize in any particular industries?
Scott: We have developed strong domain knowledge for a number of industries. This includes manufacturing, life sciences, government, high-tech, automotive, heavy equipment, insurance… But really our knowledge of XML and of the DITA standard is broad and deep and can be applied to any industry.
How do you see the world of tech docs changing?
Joe: A lot of companies are beginning to see that the robust pre-sales marketing content is drastically different from the product support content they have access to following their product purchase. Support materials are often provided in small fonts, cover all makes and models of a given product and are hard to read. Leading companies are starting to transform their organizational structures and content development and delivery processes to be more aligned across the enterprise, yielding more consistent messaging, higher content quality and personalized delivery of information.
Scott: We’re finding that the younger, more mobile-savvy generation doesn’t want to look through big documents or long PDF files any more. They want content online, and they are used to smaller content chunks that they can easily find by searching.
Consumers have changed a lot and expect self-service information. The whole approach to topic-based authoring opens up the opportunity to reuse content in multiple ways. Not just for a manual, but for support and even as pre-sale product content. There is a change in mindset and the gap between technical information and marketing content is less distinct."
Where do you think SDL Knowledge Center brings the most value to its customers?
Scott: The DITA standard supported by SDL provides tremendous value. Topic-based authoring is really the way to go for companies that want to address new audiences. The emerging customer base is used to looking for and consuming content in relevant chunks identified through detailed search criteria. And this is exactly what the DITA standard brings to the content table.
Where SDL Knowledge Center really stands out is in terms of its strong collaboration and review tools, its ability to easily handle translations and create a centralized way of managing all of this content. For organizations that need to manage translations, the SDL solution is better than any of the others on the market. It really comes into play when organizations have translation challenges and have to do more with fewer resources."
Joe: With SDL Knowledge Center, customers can go past PDFs. Now the content isn’t just for printed output anymore, but for their multichannel delivery including their product.com and mobile audiences. Like Scott said, translation efficiencies and cost savings are a huge benefit to Knowledge Center customers. The product also really delivers on compliance for more heavily regulated industries so that they disseminate the latest approved information from a single source.
How does Oberon help organizations deal with change management involved in moving to a structured content approach?
Joe: We are really committed to helping our customers through that process. We know they are facing a big change when they move from a document to a topic-based approach. Beyond just the implementation of the software, we help them through that fundamental paradigm shift since it often includes changes in how they write their content, review and approval processes, roles and content formatting.
One thing Oberon emphasizes early in the selling process is that the move to structure increases in value over time. We want to make sure our customers are successful in the long run so they achieve the benefits from the shift.
Our continual open dialog with SDL’s product development, marketing and professional services teams help us make sure customers can make the best informed decisions that will benefit them in the long term.